Regents approve Hawkeye Court razing, other housing plans

BY ARIANA WITT | MARCH 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa housing officials are set to make major changes to living spaces available to students.

The state Board of Regents voted Wednesday to approve demolishing 76 apartments at Hawkeye Court. The same day, they voted to extend the lease agreement between UI housing and Raycal Iowa LTD for the Lodge Apartment complex.

Under the new lease — which runs from Aug. 1 to July 31, 2013 — UI officials are able to use the remaining eight units in Building 3 at the Lodge currently rented out to UI students.

Von Stange, the director of UI housing, said the decision to extend the agreement came as a result of the increasing incoming class sizes to make sure students have more options without the risk of overcrowding.

Officials negotiated the lease for fall 2010 in order to house transfer students. In July 2010, housing officials said the measure was temporary.

UI junior Monica Garcia, who lives in Building 2, said she moved to the complex by choice, but thinks the space is a comfortable fit for other students.

“I like living there because you have everything,” she said. “It’s fully furnished. You just have to bring the basic essentials.”

Stange said officials won’t target the Lodge for freshmen, but they will have the option of living there.

The rented building contains 69 apartments and roughly 180 bedrooms. The new lease requires UI officials to pay Raycal Iowa, LTD $1 million for fiscal 2012.

Regents also approved the demolition and abandonment of 92 University of Iowa Hawkeye apartments at their meeting Wednesday.

Additionally, regents voted to use 16 rental units at Hawkeye Drive as storage. The entire demolition is projected to cost more than $1 million.

“Now that we’ve got the abandonment, we will continue to work with FEMA to get the process moving,” Stange said.

The plan to demolish eight buildings containing 76 first-floor apartments stems from the units being permanently damaged by the 2008 flood, Stange said. Hawkeye Court includes 504 apartments total.

Because the apartments are in the 500-meter floodplain and FEMA is paying to tear them down, Stange said officials won’t seek to rebuild the units. The area will likely become green space.

Doug True, the UI senior vice president for Finance, said officials have been looking at many options for replacing the apartments.

Some said they wondered how they’d find a replacement home.

“Life here is convenient,” said Yazhou Liu, a Hawkeye Court resident.

Liu said it will be tough to find a cheap apartment outside university housing.

But he might have to.

The lease for all students living at the Hawkeye Apartments is in question, Stange said.

“All we know is that they will have a lease until May 2012,” he said. “If we had to renew leases, it would be because we have another option available.”

For now, Stange said the next concern for housing officials is the construction of a new residence hall between the Quadrangle and Hillcrest. The project is projected to cost at least $32 million.

“We’re done with the first phase of the program,” he said. “We have get the design done, and we’re hoping to go to the board with an update in June.”

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